New York is the densest, loudest city in America, but there are plenty of beautiful greenspaces within city limits where visitors and residents can catch their collective breath. From the center of the city to the Bronx shore, these NYC parks are among our favorites.

Brooklyn Bridge Park

The stunning views of the Manhattan skyline, the East River, and the Brooklyn and Manhattan Bridges are just the start at this 85-acre greenway, which was designed by acclaimed landscape architect Michael Van Valkenburgh. Kids will love the restored 48-horse Jane’s Carousel, while those looking to work up a sweat can hit the basketball courts, soccer fields, roller rink, and rock-climbing wall.

Central Park

It’s obvious, sure, but the 843-acre granddaddy of American city parks is essential to any travel itinerary—it’s the lungs of the Big Apple. Among the places to visit here are the Loeb Boathouse, the Tavern on the Green restaurant, the Delacorte Theater (which hosts Shakespeare in the Park during the summer), the Bethesda Fountain, the Central Park Zoo, the Alice in Wonderland sculpture, and the Strawberry Fields memorial to John Lennon.

The High Line

One of the world’s most revolutionary parks, The High Line converted a disused elevated railway on the west side of Manhattan (it used to shuttle goods between factories, warehouses, and meatpacking facilities) into a public greenspace. The first section opened in 2009, and since its completion in 2019 the park now runs the length of more than 20 blocks, from Gansevoort Street to West 34th Street. It’s always packed, but it’s worth fighting the crowds for the unique views it offers of the city.

Little Island

Seemingly floating over the Hudson River on 132 concrete structures referred to as “tulips,” NYC’s Little Island is the city’s newest green space. The 2.4-acre public park in Hudson River Park on the west side of Manhattan is home to a wooden waterfront amphitheater where local artists perform free or low-cost shows. Families are also welcome to take advantage of the arts and crafts supplies at the on-site mobile Art Cart. Pro tip: Make sure to reserve a timed-entry ticket before you head to the park.

Pelham Bay Park

Sprawling over 2,772 acres, this park is the city’s largest. Its waterside location means you can soak up some sun at Orchard Beach, while the manmade attractions include two golf courses and the historic Bartow-Pell Mansion Museum. Horseback-riding lessons are available at the Bronx Equestrian Center.

Prospect Park

Landscape architect and Central Park co-designer Frederick Law Olmsted is said to have preferred this 526-acre Brooklyn greenspace, which he and Calvert Vaux also conceived. Highlights here include the ever-crowded Long Meadow, the Prospect Park Bandshell (which hosts great concerts during the summer), and the Nethermead Arches. The lovely Brooklyn Botanic Garden is just adjacent to Prospect Park.

Washington Square Park

The beating heart of Greenwich Village is this lively park, with its iconic gateway arch and bustling scene of sunbathing NYU students, busking folk musicians, outdoor chess players, and just about every other kind of New Yorker you can think of.